“I’ll be home for Christmas…You can plan on me…Please have snow and mistletoe, and presents by the tree…”
The words get me almost every time I hear the song come through my radio. Like the song itself, the words are old and familiar, the product of hearing the same portrayal of a perfect Christmas year after year.
It’s a favorite in my house, particularly as I’ve gotten older and further away from childhood Christmas. My vision of Christmas was set long ago, during years when my sister and I would tackle each other on the way down the stairs to see what Santa had left. And it’s in those memories where this classic song goes for the heart strings.
“Christmas eve will find me…Where the love light gleams…I’ll be home for Christmas…If only in my dreams….”
Amid the ads and jingle bells, I can sometimes feel myself getting stuck on what Christmas “is supposed to be” or “should be.” It can feel as though I’m being pulled into the past to remember how things were and the people who aren’t here anymore, or into the future, where we’ll have everything figured out. I see social media posts from all the friends I want to spend time with but won’t get to, and my mind can get lost in the distance between us.
The Christmas of our dreams is different for all of us, as is what it means to be home. Unless you’re extremely lucky, there’s probably a gap between what is and the ideal in your mind. But I think God is calling us to be exactly where we are this Christmas, to be mindful of the blessings in our lives in the here and now.
In a commonly known passage from the Bible, Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” And so I look for God where I am — stirring pancake batter with my son, stuck in traffic on the way to work or watching TV with my wife at the end of a long day.
In remembering that God is with us this season, we can hear the nonstop ringing of our phones and the shattering of falling ornaments as signs of love and opportunities for laughter. We can look past those ads calling for us to show our love through the purchase of expensive stereo equipment and more deeply consider how we might be called to act in our current place.
And maybe we won’t even get frustrated when six people cut us off while turning into the mall parking lot to do some Christmas shopping. Then again, maybe we’ll just ask God to help us work on that in the new year.
This Christmas, look around you. I pray there’s a roof over your head and food in your belly, and I pray you connect with people you love, even if you can’t all be together. And I pray that, wherever you go and whoever you see, you remember that you are home for Christmas where you are.
Originally published on December 22, 2017.